Fran’s Beauty Salon

Mom is sitting on the back deck watching the birds coming to the feeders this morning.  Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are tanking up from the glass ball feeder before making their way across the Gulf of Mexico.  She points to each one when she spots it, making sure that I see it when I am out there with her.  In three days she will return to Florida.  I’ll miss her pointing to the Hummers.

My mother decided that she wanted to become a beautician when I was 12 years old, so she went back to school.  It was quite intense.  At the time, she had to go to Tallahassee to take a final exam, if I am remembering correctly.  I went as her “head of hair” to show off her skills.  Finger waves, which are quite difficult, were part of the exam.  She passed and Fran’s Beauty Salon was born.  It was located in what eventually became the master bedroom on the back corner of our house.  Customers would drive up to the sliding glass doors and park on the grass.  It was a place of laughter, tears, stories and love.  There was a well stocked chest type Coke machine in one corner and a jar of Lance cheese and peanut butter crackers on the station with the sink.  A large hooded hairdryer on a green vinyl chair accommodated a head filled with the largest of rollers.  The smell of permanent wave solution wafted down the hallway everyday that Mom worked.

I learned some skills watching Mom.  I have been cutting Dave’s hair for forty years.  Sometimes, I have had grand successes and sometimes, my daughters wished that I had kept my scissors in the bag.   I decided this past week to give Mom a perm.  Maybe the smells of her beauty shop imprinted on my brain.

It is getting harder for her to maneuver in a beauty salon, these days.  The footrest on the chairs is almost impossible for her to get over.  So, I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply and purchased the rollers, papers, perm–One ‘n Only, Shiny Silver for Grey Hair, and a “funnel” that wraps around her head and directs the water to the sink.

Rolling her hair on the rollers was not an easy task.  More skill is needed here.  The hair kept slipping out of the papers and the paper would stick to my fingers.  We giggled, but I had to work hard to keep a few expletives from slipping out of my mouth.

Forty-five minutes later, we were ready for the solution–the stinky stuff that makes the hair curl.  I mixed the activator in the little bottle with the solution in the biggest bottle.  The bottle became warm to touch after shaking it.  I put it on all the curls and Mom dabbed her face to keep it from rolling in her eyes.  I forgot to get the cotton rope to go around her face at the beauty supply store.  I cut strips of towel and tried to use it instead, but it did not stay put.

Fifteen minutes later, I squeezed Mom’s head with the funnel and secured it with the Velcro tab.  It did stop the flow of solution.  I rolled her up to the kitchen sink, in order to use the sprayer.  By the time we were finished with the first rinse she was soaked and more water was on the floor than in the sink.  I needed an extra pair of hands to keep the funnel in the sink.  The weight of the water pulled it out.  Using the transport wheelchair would have helped.  The wheels are smaller and would have gotten her closer to the sink.  Next time.


After the first rinse, I covered each curl with the neutralizer and waited five minutes.  Then, the second rinse and the relief of taking out all of those tight little rollers.  If anyone reading this has had a perm, you know what I am talking about.  I added the leave-in conditioner and happily rolled her hair with Velcro rollers–so easy.

She looks gorgeous in this picture with her new curls.  I was relieved and pleased with the results. As caregivers, we often have to step out of our comfort zone.  The journey may be the dickens to get through, but arriving at our destination makes it all worthwhile.


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